Writing for Discussion Boards: Conventions for Online Discussions
Use a specific subject line. Using a phrase such as “response to Jacob” for your subject doesn’t tell other readers anything about the content of your response. Be brief, yet specific (e.g., Errors in Watting’s Theories).
Keep to one main idea or topic per response. If you want to offer two different ideas, do separate posts.
Differentiate between starting a discussion thread and responding to someone else’s posting. Most discussion boards use what’s called a “threaded discussion,” which means that responses are indented under an initial posting. This type of indentation provides a visual cue to a reader, allowing him to rapidly distinguish the different discussion topics or threads.
Write informally. There is no need for fancy language or sentence structure but check your spelling before you finalize the posting. Most systems have a spell-check function. If you’re not a good typist, you may want to compose your response with a word processor and then paste or upload it into the discussion board. This is also a good idea in case there are technological issues, which can cause you to lose a post. If you create your post in a word-processing program, you can save a back-up copy of your post.
Do not dominate the discussion. There’s no need to respond to absolutely every posting from every participant. Respond selectively. Often, a course instructor will let you know how much online participation she expects.
Be polite, and apply the rules of etiquette. Use standard capitalization and punctuation; do not use all caps, as this is considered “shouting” online; use symbols sparingly to indicate tone when you think that words alone may not convey your meaning fully or accurately.
Remember that a lot of people may have access to your posts on a discussion board: other students, your instructor, college technical staff, administrators, etc. Write accordingly.